Yomiuri reported that Defense Minister Kono told the press yesterday that he is likely to hold a videoconference with his U.S. and South Korean counterparts not later than June to discuss such issues as China’s maritime push. He was quoted as saying: “Certain countries are trying to alter the status quo unilaterally at a time when the international community is busy dealing with an infectious disease.”
In a related development, NHK reported that Kono held teleconferences with his counterparts in New Zealand, Singapore, and Indonesia on Tuesday and expressed strong opposition to any attempt to unilaterally change the status quo or increase tensions, apparently with China’s stepping up its activities in the East and South China Seas in mind. The network said the defense chiefs also agreed to share information and expertise in curbing the spread of the new coronavirus. The network noted that this was the first time for Kono to hold talks with New Zealand Defense Minister Mark via teleconference over the Internet, adding that the MOD is planning to consider ways to increase confidentiality as the number of meetings held via teleconference is expected to rise in the future.